SSG Jason Zedkheia

Before he ever donned a military uniform, Army Staff Sgt. Jason Zedhkeia knew he would join the service and make it a lifelong career.

"When I was in high school, I had already made up my mind," Zedhkeia said, recalling the military influence he experienced while growing up in the city of Majuro on the Marshall Islands. Zedhkeia is now an Army medical recruiter stationed in Columbus, Ga.

Zedhkeia is one of about 100 Soldier Heroes recognized for valor who will be honored at the 2011 Army All American Bowl in San Antonio. The football game airs at 1 p.m. EST Jan. 8 on NBC. Each Soldier Hero will be matched to mentor a high school all-star selected to play in the annual game.

In 2003, Zedhkeia was serving as a senior line medic with the 101st Airborne Division during the battle of Al-Hillah in Iraq. While medics are normally positioned toward the rear of a combat patrol in order to treat casualties, through a mix up, Zedhkeia found himself on the first vehicle.

The patrol element came under heavy fire and a fellow Soldier was wounded on his left side and fell. Zedhkeia left protective cover to provide aid and transferred the patient to the medical vehicle while under fire. He also aided the platoon leader who had taken bullet fragments to the arm. As the combat continued, Zedhkeia moved from man to man under fire to ensure they were OK. One Soldier was killed in action and two were wounded during the firefight. For his actions, Gen. David H. Petraeus later awarded Zedhkeia the Army Commendation Medal for Valor.

Zedhkeia said being named a Soldier Hero is humbling and that he is honored to have the opportunity to share his experience. "I don't think I ever heard any big stories or much recognition about what we did, about what my guys did in that battle," Zedhkeia said. "Many of them are still in the same unit and fighting in Afghanistan."

Since his Operation Iraqi Freedom deployment, Zedhkeia has reenlisted and been promoted twice. He currently serves as a medical recruiter, seeking physicians, nurses and other medical specialists to serve in the Army.

"I enjoy medical recruiting," he said. "I like meeting and networking with medical professionals."

With about a year of recruiting under his belt, Zedhkeia is still considered "new" to the field. Even so, he has already commissioned two veterinarians, a dentist, an environmental scientist and a healthcare administrator.

"Recruiting makes me feel very accomplished," Zedhkeia said. While he is no longer providing personal medical assistance to his fellow Soldiers, he knows what he is doing will make a difference. "Recruiting medical professionals makes me feel that I am making a valuable contribution to the global war on terrorism."

Page last updated Thu December 30th, 2010 at 10:26